Isaac Plays Video Games While Dinking Beer – Update 5

9:21 :  I was going to spend the evening trying to resurrect Caution: Wet Floor, my old website, but a.) I feel like crap and b.) I don’t know how to design websites any longer.  So instead I’m going to play video games while drinking beer.  I will update the internet on my progress because I know how much you kids care about me playing video games.

Updates beneath cut!

Kong

I finally got to see King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters last night, and it is a pretty damn amazing piece of film. For those of you not in the know, King of
Kong
is a documentary film that tells the story of the rivalry between the two best Donkey Kong players in the world, Billy Mitchell and Steve Weibe. The
competition is nothing short of epic.

The film showcases the world of competitive high score gaming. There is something deeply compelling about looking at the machinery of subcultures and hidden societies. The ways that they are similar to mainstream cultures and the way that they differ. The contrast makes for a pretty good mirror.

The personalities, etiquette, values, and community of these competitive gamers are especially fascinating. People considered utter losers by most cultural metrics are here thought to be champions. Billy Mitchell isn’t an awkward guy with an incredibly bad haircut, he’s the greatest video game player in the world. There is a powerful inversion at work, where something commonly perceived as a childish diversion has become a deadly serious test of personal mettle.

In King of Kong, the filmmakers are telling the instantly-recognizable underdog sports story, but they are telling it a very unfamiliar setting. The result is utterly gripping. Steve Weibe, the young upstart seems like such a sweet guy, I don’t care how little of a fuck you give about Donkey Kong, you want him to succeed at his dream. Standing in his way is an establishment with a vested interest in watching him fail. The ensuing gamesmanship, coupled with treachery, politics, and personality clashes are as engrossing as any fictional sports film.

Of course, a lot of it is bullshit. Timelines have been distorted, facts have been omitted, and every move against Weibe is cast in the worst light possible. None of which makes the story any less gripping. Still, I trust the filmmakers far less than I trust the “villains” of King of Kong.

Also, the movie is very funny. This is not surprising. Nerds are funny. Giant egos are funny. Nerds with giant egos are pretty damn funny. Watching people full of pride and ego over something considered inconsequential is one of the great comedy disconnects. I reckon many people have enjoyed the film largely for the “haha look at the freaks” factor.

Yeah, I laughed a lot, but I gotta say, I have nothing but respect for these freaks. Would I want to spend my life watching countless hours of high score tapes? Or playing Donkey Kong for hundreds of hours, learning the precise patterns of play needed to eke out a few hundred more points? No, because I have drastically different values than these fellas.

However, these are men (almost without exception, this is a all-boy club) who are just not equipped to deal with society on mainstream terms. And yet, these socially awkward misfits have created a space where they are champions, or live among champions. They get to taste the sweetest of victories. I applaud these guys. They get to live in a strange nerd Valhalla unlike any we will ever know.

It is a truly great film. It is about how we define ourselves and what we value. It is funny and sweet, and a gross distortion of reality. I’d recommend it to anyone, and strongly recommend it to anyone with any level of interest in classic video games.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Kong

I finally got to see King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters last night. Damn,
is that an amazing piece of film. For those of you not in the know, King of
Kong is a documentary film that tells the story of the rivalry between the
two best Donkey Kong players in the world, Billy Mitchell and Steve Weibe. The
competition is nothing short of epic.

The film showcases the world of competitive high score gaming. There is
something deeply compelling about looking at the machinery of any
subcultures and hidden societies. The ways that they are similar to
mainstream cultures and the way that they differ, the contrast makes for a
pretty good mirror.

The personalities, etiquette, values, and community of these competitive
gamers are especially fascinating. People considered utter losers by most
cultural metrics are within this society, champions. Billy Mitchell isn’t
an awkward guy with an incredibly bad haircut, he’s the greatest video game
player in the world. There is a powerful inversion at work, where
something commonly perceived as a childish diversion has become a deadly
serious test of personal mettle.

In King of Kong, the filmmakers are telling the instantly-recognizable
underdog sports story, but they are telling it a very unfamiliar setting. The
result is utterly gripping. Steve Weibe, the young upstart seems like such
a sweet guy, I don’t care how little of a fuck you give about Donkey Kong,
you want him to succeed at his dream. Standing in his way is an
establishment with a vested interest in watching him fail. The ensuing
gamesmanship, coupled with treachery, politics, and personality clashes are
as engrossing as any sports film.

Of course, a lot of it is bullshit. Timelines have been distorted, facts
have been omitted, and every move against Weibe is cast in the worst light
possible. None of which makes the story any less gripping. Still, I trust
the filmmakers far less than I trust the “villains” of King of Kong.

Also, the movie is very funny. This is not surprising. Nerds are
funny. Giant
egos are funny. Nerds with giant egos are pretty damn funny. Watching
people full of pride and ego over something considered inconsequential is
one of the great comedy disconnects. I reckon many people have enjoyed the
film largely for the “haha look at the freaks” factor.

Yeah, I laughed a lot, but I gotta say, I have nothing but respect for these
freaks. Would I want to spend my life watching countless hours of high
score tapes? Or playing Donkey Kong for hundreds of hours, learning the
precise patterns of play needed to eke out a few hundred more points? No,
because I have drastically different values than these fellas.

However, these are men (almost without exception, this is a all-boy club) who
are just not equipped to deal with society on mainstream terms. And yet,
these socially awkward misfits have created a space where they are
champions, or live among champions. They get to taste the sweetest of
victories. I applaud these guys. They get to live in a strange nerd
Valhalla unlike any we will ever know.

It is a truly great film. It is about how we define ourselves and what we
value. It is funny and sweet, and a gross distortion of reality. I’d
recommend it to anyone, and strongly recommend it to anyone with any level
of interest in classic video games.

“Okay, Isaac. Let’s talk ghosts.”

So my friend flyngzebra (I don’t know how to code user tags I am very sorry
for this) is teaching English Comp One this semester. She assigns a weekly
journal topic, and at the start of the semester she asked me for some topic
ideas. I threw out a bunch of random ideas, some more serious than others,
and well, a week or so back, she assigned the following topic:

“My friend Isaac doesn’t understand how people in the 21st century can
believe in ghosts. Explain it to him.”

I have to say, having 20 semi-literate college freshmen explain to me why
they believe in ghosts has been a singular experience. The far most common
argument is the “I heard a noise once, so ghosts are real” argument. A
close second is “Ghost Hunters proves that ghosts are real with science.”

Ghostbusters is cited no less than four times.

A majority of the papers directly addressed me, which was sweet. One paper
presumed a hypothetical “Isaac” and spoke of the discussions that the author
had held with this “Isaac” fella.

I was told I need to get off of my high horse. This is true. I do.

Many students interpreted the “21st century” part of the premise as an
indicator that belief in ghosts is more prevalent now than in centuries
past. I fear that they may be right.

“science probably proves ghosts.”

“ghost abductions are on the rise.”

If I recall correctly, three of the students don’t believe in ghosts. One
doesn’t believe in ghosts, but does believe in spirits of dead people
roaming the earth, and two students I honestly couldn’t quite tell if they
were being serious or not.

I still don’t believe in ghosts, but I’ve gained some scary insight,
nonetheless.

Legions

Ok, so I missed it last year when it came out, but Galaga Legions is
freaking sweet. At release, I sorta dismissed it because it looked garishly
un-Galaga-like, and also Geometry Wars 2 had just come out. Now I realize
the error of my ways and oh my goodness is this a sweet game.

It is like Galaga. Times a billion.

Good Advice For Rare Situations — Two Easy Points

Sometimes when playing Scattergories, the letter will be “M” and the prompt
will be “Cartoon Character”. Your first impulse is likely to be “Mickey
Mouse” as he is not only the most famous cartoon character ever, but he is
also worth two points. However, it is clear that this very fame makes him a
poor choice. Other mouse alternatives seem may seem viable, perhaps
“Minnie”, perhaps “Mighty”. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY PERSON CONSIDERING MOUSE
ALTERNATIVES. Choosing any mouse is fraught with danger, even opting for
the “Mickey” double bluff.

My advice is “Mister Magoo.”

Unless you are playing with someone else who has read this post.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Good Advice For Rare Situations — Two Easy Points

Sometimes when playing Scatergories, the letter will be “M” and the prompt
will be “Cartoon Character”. Your first impulse is likely to be “Mickey
Mouse” as he is not only the most famous cartoon character ever, but he is
also worth two points. However, it is clear that this very fame makes him a
poor choice. Other mouse alternatives seem may seem viable, perhaps
“Minnie”, perhaps “Mighty”. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY PERSON CONSIDERING MOUSE
ALTERNATIVES. Choosing any mouse is fraught with danger, even opting for
the “Mickey” double bluff.

My advice is “Mister Magoo.”

Unless you are playing with someone else who has read this post.